Almost a year ago I bought The Professional Chef, the Culinary Institute of America’s textbook, because…. it cost $40. Had 900 recipes. 800 color photographs. Recipe per dollar, it must be blowing every other cookbook out of the water!
But it’s overwhelmingly intimidating. All the recipes are to feed a crowd. And all the ingredients are listed by weight. It took me a little while (read: until this week!) to face the 1200 page behemoth and say, Yes. I am going to cook something from you.
So I cut the recipe for Risotto Milanese in half and got some shrimp so that I could make a less froofy-sounding dish: Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp. By all textbook/cookbook accounts, half the recipe should have served 5. But… it only served us 2. We were hungry. It was delicious.
Maybe you’ll have leftovers. Maybe you should double the recipe to feed your family. Maybe we were just two hungry 20-somethings who had been so busy all day we’d barely eaten anything.
Maybe, maybe, maybe. I’ll stick with it’s unstoppably delicious.
Shrimp bathed in butter and garlic. Tender rice slowly cooked in delicious broth with fresh cheese clinging to every grain. A few simple herbs, a splash of wine, a quick hit of lemon. It’s elementary, really.
Do you think risotto is difficult? It’s not. You just have to watch it. Coddle it a little.
It’s important to coat the rice in a fat (oil, butter, etc) and toast it ever so slightly before adding liquid. Then, just a cup at a time, ease the liquid together with the rice. Wait until it’s all absorbed before you add some more. You don’t have to stir constantly, just every couple of minutes. You can be doing something else; browsing Facebook, reading a book, talking to your cooking buddy (if you’re so lucky to have one). You’ll be able to hear when the risotto is getting needy when you listen closely enough.
I promise the risotto will reward you for your unwavering attentiveness.
Parmesan Risotto with Shrimp
For the shrimp:
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup salted butter (4 tbsp)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
For the risotto:
3 cups chicken broth
pinch saffron threads (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 small onion, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp dry white wine
3 oz grated parmesan (about 3/4 cup)
lemon, for garnish
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, rosemary, basil, and red wine vinegar. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove from heat and pour over shrimp in a small bowl. Allow it to marinate while you prepare the risotto.
Heat chicken broth over low heat. Add the saffron, salt, and pepper. It's important that the broth is hot when you add it to the Arborio rice.
In another medium pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes (you want to cook them, but not brown them). Increase the heat to medium-low and add the Arborio rice. Mix well to coat rice with the oil. Toast (but don't brown) the rice for about 1 minute, until it has a slight nutty aroma. Add the wine and cook until dry.
Add 1 cup of the broth to the rice and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has absorbed. Don't leave the room; the risotto will ruin itself it you walk away. Repeat with the second and third cup, making sure not to add more liquid until the previous has been completely absorbed. Meanwhile, cook the shrimp.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and butter marinade to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp turns pink and slightly curled. Don't overcook or the shrimp will be chewy! Remove from heat, and place the shrimp in a bowl, reserving the butter.
When the risotto has absorbed all the liquid and is al dente, stir in the Parmesan and reserved butter from the shrimp. Serve with shrimp, a little shaved Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon on top. Enjoy!